By sharing my story of grief and compassion fatigue, I hope to bring light to others. Narrative story helps heal the soul and gives a voice to grief and compassion fatigue when all too often, its a silent world. Creative arts continues to help me, to decorate a world of darkness in meaningful color and teaches me to love the broken pieces of me. It also provides an exit for feelings that may be hiding in my body keeping my immune system strong. My journey has led me to my spirit of wisdom, to my inner healer and ultimately a faith that has brought me peace. Perhaps, by sharing my journey, it may speak to your soul too and resonate in the broken pieces of you.
I met grief at the age of 1 in 1974, My Mum was 24 and she died of cancer. Grief silenced the family I was raised in. No one knew how to care for themselves in grief. My Gran was her caregiver, she was a nurse, and her silence was deafening. I also look back and can see the signs of compassion fatigue here in the early days of my life with my family. Gabor Mate says compassion fatigue is the result of trying to fix the unfixable. For my family they could not fix the loss of a child, a Mum, and a soul that they loved deeply. For as long as I can remember I was a caregiver, caring for adults not able to care for themselves, I learned to silence my feelings too.
I met compassion fatigue and she changed me forever, and I am so thankful that she did. I honestly became a nurse to do death and grief better, which led to my work in palliative care. I cared deeply for my patients. I worked really hard to make their ending different; for I knew what grief and silence can do to a family. In my ignorance, I worked so hard at caring for others, I forgot about me. I tried to fix my broken past and fix an ending so it wouldn't cause them the same results. Almost 15 years into my career, I experienced crippling compassion fatigue. It doesn't surprise me. No one taught me the importance of self care for nurses. It is not something my family taught and it is not something nurses are either. In 2014, my non-negotiable compassionate care of me practice began and became the practice I still do today. I also began to paint. really paint and experienced healing from the colors and the process. I am not very good at it, it doesn't matter. It helps me express feelings I am unable to voice, helps me surrender to a healing process and get connected to my inner wisdom, healer and the essence of who I truly am.
The next time grief was met, I was ready. My Dad was dying (2016) and I knew this story. I knew it wasn't going to be repeated. I was a daughter on a mission to change a family legacy. Narrative story helped us create a story of love, compassion and connection. "The Meeting Tree" was created in our sacred quiet time together. We witnessed healing for a lifetime of grief, found God and love, and were truly together in light. Creative arts helps my family, we have since painted "The Meeting Tree" on the wall outside my office. It reminds me, that even though I may be deeply rooted in grief, there is hope and healing. It also offers an invitation to those grieving ~ to share their story and create a love leaf of their own and place it on the Meeting Tree with honor. This time grief did not destroy a family, compassion fatigue did not set in. I had a practice, a revival toolkit that I kept on doing the whole time, and I cared for me even when my Dad was dying.
I have finally learned how to use my voice. Oh I still have my days, but I understand it is my life's journey and not something to fix overnight.
Non negotiable self care practice is still non-negotiable. I make it my mission to help other caregivers so they can thrive even in the darkest, toughest of times. We can do compassion fatigue and grief better, it takes a lifetime of practice.
Thank you for being a part of my story.
In loving Memory of Jennifer and Bill Rowe.
Working through grief is not easy.
Experiencing a pandemic has not been easy either.
Narrative Story and Creative Arts has helped us along the journey. Perhaps it can help you too.
One created the design and made sure to stay in the lines.
Staying in the lines contained feelings. Or did it?
One went rogue and used every color and simply let go of the rules.
Going rogue helped to surrender to what the spirit needed to heal.
One tried very hard to stay in the lines but could not.
Going outside of the lines felt bad and different from everyone else.
We all do feelings differently.
Creative arts helped us to express those differences.
We will gladly place your leaf with compassion and kindness in a place of honor on The Meeting Tree.
If you wish to send us one, please connect.
Licensed Registered Nurse #78611
Certified Grief Support Counsellor # CGSC 1048-20
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Nurse (CHPCN(c) # 14132669
Registered Nurse (RN) (2005)
Leap Coach with Pallium Canada ~ Facilitating Leap (2011)
Certified Grief Support Counsellor (CGSC) (2020).
Certification in Comprehensive Holistic Nurse & Nurse Coach.(NC) (2021)
Certification in Emotional Freedom Technique Leve 1 & 2 (2021)
Currently working on EFT Level 2 International Certification Process.
Professional Verification by Psychology Today